Indy 500: Winning team press conference, part 2

Continued from part 1 Q: Chip, you have a lot of good drivers through your IndyCar stable over the years. How good is Scott? Where does he rank? GANASSI: You have to say he's right up there, if not there. I've been blessed in this industry...

Continued from part 1

Q: Chip, you have a lot of good drivers through your IndyCar stable over the years. How good is Scott? Where does he rank?

GANASSI: You have to say he's right up there, if not there. I've been blessed in this industry to work with great drivers, like I said earlier, and great people. You know, today he's the one, it's that simple. You know, the first two guys that call me, the first two guys in Victory Lane to call were Montoya and Franchitti. They said, "Hey, great job," and they asked me why I was drinking the milk before he was. (Laughter) I said I didn't notice that.

Q: Scott, if could you shed a little light. You said you had pancakes. Were they blueberry, chocolate chip? Also, did you sleep well last night? Could you just tell us a little bit about what your night was like last night and also this morning?

DIXON: Yeah, I did sleep well, actually. I went to bed early and got woken up by that God-awful cannon that goes off at 6 in the morning, dogs in the motor home, and they were barking after that. So I was up quite early. My wife, Emma, made me just plain pancakes, American pancakes. Put a bit of butter on it, bit of hot syrup, and that's about all I had actually before the race. That was my morning. A bit of running around, but it was pretty simple today. That's a nice way to start.

Q: We kind of touched on it already, Scott, but second place last year and the mixed emotion that comes along with that. How much of the disappointment being so close to winning and not winning linger through this past year and even up into today?

DIXON: The race last year, you know, I think if you're sort of pushing on to the '500' last year was kind of a strange day. To be honest, when I finished second, I still didn't feel like I had done anything because it was a day of strategies. Not taking anything away from Dario, he was definitely fast and one of the guys to beat that day. But for me personally it was just kind of one those blah days, nothing really came out of it for me. So I don't -- coming close in that circumstance didn't really play much on me. I think you're disappointed no matter what unless you come away from this place winning it. But for me, the thing that I was more angry at was losing a championship so close and running out of fuel with a turn to go, that lingered definitely over the offseason, but by that time, I had forgotten about the '500' and where we finished.

Q: Scott, I wondered, you've won the championship, you've won the '500,' what do you set your sights on now, what's the next goal?

DIXON: Championship, man. We have another championship to win this year. That is something we get on next week in Milwaukee. Having won a championship in 2003, that was a long time ago. So I need to get on my game and try and capture another championship for the team and everybody involved. That's exactly what they want to do. It's nice to -- we're going to have great memories from this day, and we're going to treasure those for sure, but Thursday, Friday of next week we're back on the game for the championship.

Q: How does this compare to winning the championship in 2003?

DIXON: Much more sweeter. This is much more sweeter. Because you work three weeks solidly, and it comes down to one day to get it and have everything to fall into place. It's quite special. There's not many people that have this happen.

For me, a championship is different. I think especially in 2003 for all us guys, it was a bit of a shock, you know. We came in as the first year, not a shock for Chip and his team because they're great at winning championships, but for me one for probably not liking ovals too much at that point, and not having done extremely well at that point either, and coming in with cars that maybe people didn't think were the ones to have and things like that, but that year was definitely a shock, I think. So this is much sweeter. You know now what goes into winning this race and how much effort everybody puts into it. Makes it much sweeter.

Q: Scott, the reunification story is so big, this is the year that open-wheel racing got its act together, everybody got together, and I'm sure in the future people will look back and say this was the year, the marking of the new era, the significance of winning the first Indy 500 of that new era.

DIXON: It's nice. That's about all I'd say about it. You've got to understand that these teams have not had much time. They're at a disadvantage. This race every year is very difficult to win, no matter who's in it. The depth of the field I would say was much stronger this year. Definitely a lot of talent with these new teams and drivers. But, you know, it's hard to sort of say, yeah, we beat all the guys that came in kind of thing because they haven't had much time. I think next year is going to be just as tough to win, but that's the real year I think that everybody is going to be up to the level that they're going to be. So it is nice to, especially to win the first race at Homestead that way and then to win the first '500' of unification. But you can't take too much away from those guys.

Q: Chip, Wheldon was pretty vague about what happened to his car.

GANASSI: Yeah, I think we got a broken shock or something. We got something broken in it. It's something -- I mean something is wrong with that car, I can tell you. You know, the thing just lost its speed all at once. First we thought we got rubber on the tires and that wasn't it. And he kept complaining about the right rear of the car, the right rear corner. So I'll be interested to see there. We might have a broken shock or something.

Q: Chip, now that you have four of the last eight Indy 500 winners in your stable, does it make up for maybe some lost opportunities you had in the latter part of last decade when you had such dominant teams?

GANASSI: You don't think about that kind of thing. Like I said, I'm lucky to have all the drivers that drive for us. I'm lucky to have all of them. I'm lucky to be in the business that, you know, when I got started in this business or when I was -- I was telling someone yesterday, the first time I came to Indianapolis, the Indianapolis 500, I was 13 years old or something. The first time I came, I came the year before I drove here in 1981, I think that was, you know, I don't know how many years ago, 26, 27 years ago or something and you know, racing in those days was not -- you almost were embarrassed to tell people that -- they say what do you do for a living? You say, 'I race cars,' and they look at you a little crooked back in those days. There were so few people in those days that it was not a respected industry or a respected sport. So I'm just, like I said, I'm, you know, here I am all these years later, and it's become what it's become and it's special to be able to w ork with all those guys. I just, like I said, we're in this business for one reason, and it's to win races and win championships and give back something to our sponsors. I'm the luckiest guy on the planet about the sponsors that I have and the people I get to work with.

SULLIVAN: Just four or five minutes.

Q: Having spent my share of time around the Team New Zealand sailing people, I was wondering when you guys were going to do the Hackamore war dance up there.

DIXON: If I still knew it, mate, that would be the forum. But I think there were some boys out here that just did it, did you see that?

Q: It doesn't count, doesn't get you off the hook. (Laughter)

DIXON: I forgot that about 20 years ago, man. I knew it in school, but that was about it.

Q: That would have been a photo op.

Q: This is for Chip and for Mike. On a day when the Indy 500 celebrated unity, you guys came here in 2000, and I'm sure that was a pretty gutsy move here to come here and break ranks and you guys were the first major team to come back here. If you guys could talk about having done that and now being here with the unified series and how satisfied both of you feel about that.

HULL: Winning the Indy 500, it's the biggest race in the world to win. And whether it's this year when we've had, what we're calling unification or whether it was in 2000 when we came here when we were still in another series, to us we feel this is the most important race in the world to win. To be blessed in this way to win it again is why we come here every year. Excited about this.

GANASSI: Yeah, Bruce, we all, I said this a few weeks ago, we all lived and died a lot in those years of the split. Thank God -- can we please all put this behind us, you know? Put a period on that thing, and let's move forward. You know, we lived during that time, but we died, too. So I'd just as soon forget about everything that's behind us in that respect. I'm happy that we're back together. I'm happy there's one IndyCar Series. Unification is great but, you know, it's IndyCar racing again, OK? And those -- there's nothing older than yesterday's news.

HULL: One of the greatest things about the Indy 500 this year outside of what we did today, is the fact that the people are back on Georgetown Road. You know, that's the barometer really when you think about it, and it always has been. When you have what goes on on Georgetown Road happen on Saturday night, you know that people are -- you know, the people are here. It's awesome. And unification, if that's what you want to call it, is giving us what we need to make this the best thing in the world.

Q: Scott, ultimately you work back around but the pass that Vitor made, sort of three-wide thing, how aware of that were you? What did you notice or did you just all of a sudden see him ahead?

DIXON: Sorry, I missed the last part.

Q: What did you notice? How aware of what he was doing were you?

DIXON: Yeah, I was aware what Vitor was up to the whole time. The cars you can see out of very well, they have mirrors and things like that. Definitely people telling you on the radio exactly what he's up to. I think that was when we were passing him, is that what you were talking about; is that right? I think Ed was on older tires and didn't have the speed we did on new tires. He definitely came from a long way back. They were a lot more trimmed out than us, I think. The last, you know, 20, 30 laps of the race you could tell he was definitely very quick out front by himself. I tried a few runs at him, I was in a air mixture, and I was pretty confident we could get past him when we needed to. But I wanted to sit back and see sort of how his car was over a longer stint, see if it went off because he had less downforce than us. But no, anytime you're out there you know what's going on. There's plenty of people yelling down the radios to let you know who's where and especially on a day like this. I think it's better for us. We probably could have stayed in front of him at that point, but there was no point to squeeze a guy and have a chance of him maybe taking us out.

SULLIVAN: Well, on Pole Day, Helio Castroneves came in here and told the assembled media, 'We're not going back out because we don't have anything for them,' and that was the statement of the month. Congratulations, guys.

DIXON: Thank you. (Applause)

-credit: ims

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Helio Castroneves